Zuckerberg: Contract for Facebook ownership 'fake'

Jun 03, 2011 By CAROLYN THOMPSON , Associated Press
Facebook

(AP) -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says emails and a signed document that form the basis of a New York man's lawsuit claiming part ownership of the social networking phenomenon are fakes.

Zuckerberg's statements were included in papers filed Thursday by his attorneys in federal court in Buffalo. The attorneys want expedited access to the original materials, copies of which were filed with Paul Ceglia's lawsuit, and to examine Ceglia's computers and electronic media.

"The contract is a cut-and-paste job, the emails are complete fabrications and this entire lawsuit is a fraud," attorneys for Zuckerberg and his Palo Alto, Calif.-based company wrote. "Zuckerberg has now declared under oath that he did not sign the contract attached to Ceglia's complaint and that he did not write or receive any of the purported emails."

Ceglia's lawsuit, first brought in 2010 and refiled in April, relies largely on a two-page "work for hire" contract bearing the names of both men.

Ceglia, of Wellsville in Allegany County, says he and Zuckerberg signed the contract after Zuckerberg, then a Harvard University student, responded to his Craigslist help-wanted ad for work on a street-mapping database he was creating. According to the , Ceglia paid Zuckerberg $1,000 to work on the street-mapping project and gave him another $1,000 after Zuckerberg told him about his Facebook idea, with the condition Ceglia would get half if it took off.

The emails document discussions about the arrangement, according to Ceglia.

One of Ceglia's attorneys, Dennis C. Vacco, said he welcomes the Facebook attorneys' request for expedited discovery but disagrees with their characterization of the documents.

"We're very happy to see that they agree with us in moving this process along as quickly as possible," Vacco said.

Facebook's latest filings include findings by forensics examiners hired to analyze Ceglia's submissions. One called the work-for-hire contract an "amateurish forgery."

"Those so-called expert opinions have been provided without examining the actual contract which is at issue in the case," Vacco responded.

Ceglia seeks a 50 percent share of Zuckerberg's interest in the company, which has more than 500 million users worldwide. In March, Forbes magazine estimated Zuckerberg's net worth at $13.5 billion.

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User comments : 6

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Sean_W
not rated yet Jun 03, 2011
Does this have anything to do with that Facebook movie I wasn't interested in?

E-mails as evidence? Can an Etch-a-Sketch be considered a legal document then?
Nik_2213
5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2011
"E-mails as evidence?" Worked for Climategate-- They destroyed several reputations, regardless of validity of data in question...
Yellowdart
not rated yet Jun 03, 2011
E-mails are a written record of conversation. It is just as usable as evidence as anything else, and all the more so because it's recorded. So be very careful what you put in an email. Especially since tone, demeanor, context can all be inferred years down the road.
J-n
not rated yet Jun 03, 2011
Yellowdart, i believe that the problem is not that the e-mails are not a written record, but that they are JUST AS EASY to forge as any written document, more-so because of the lack of handwriting or other markers to determine who it was actually sent by.

The e-mail header information along with all of it's content are VERY easily changed, forged, spoofed, etc. Unless the documents were signed with a PGP key (or other similar technology) there is no way to verify it's source, or content as legit.

Often people with a sophomoric knowledge of computer technology make the mistake in thinking that e-mail is in any way secure or infallible. Which is why, for instance, it is illegal for your doctor to e-mail personally identifiable health information.
Yellowdart
5 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2011
J-n,

I don't disagree with you. Evidence is always subject to the questions of authenticity, contamination, he said/she said, etc.

But it is admissible as evidence.

I don't say anything in an email that I'm not ready to defend or claim it is mine when it comes to business.
J-n
not rated yet Jun 03, 2011
But it is admissible as evidence. I don't say anything in an email that I'm not ready to defend or claim it is mine when it comes to business.


Very true, and Great advice.

As long as Prosecutors, Defenders, Individuals, and Corporations remember that (without SIGNIFICANT effort) e-mail is as fallable and subject to fraud as paper documents (possibly even more so).